California legislators will have to wait until next year to curb the use of private prisons to hold thousands of immigrants awaiting federal deportation hearings, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. About 3,700 immigrants under federal detention orders are being held in corporate-owned prisons under contracts with four California cities: Bakersfield, San Diego, Adelanto, and Calexico. Amid government findings of safety and security problems at private prisons, the legislature passed a bill that would have prohibited such contracts starting in 2018, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it.
Brown said he had been troubled by reports of unsatisfactory conditions and limited access to attorneys at the private lockups. He noted that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had also expressed concern and was scheduled to issue recommendations in November on whether the government should continue housing immigration detainees in private prisons. “These actions indicate that a more permanent solution to this issue may be at hand,” Brown said. “I urge the federal authorities to act swiftly.” California houses 10,700 inmates in private facilities. California has transferred inmates to privately owned prisons for more than five years to relieve overcrowding in state prisons. About 5,900 are in California and the rest are in Arizona and Mississippi. Brown hopes to end the practice by reducing the overall prison population.